The air conditioner is dripping
down the peeling paint, and the bathroom
is full of poisoned bees staring at themselves
in the mirror before they die,
and all I want to do is drive, the radio a river
of summers, everything I’ve lost
flashing in its current.
The car is blowing cool air over my skin
and my arms are bare and freckled
and they still look like my young arms,
the ones I stared at in the sunlight
on the front steps of my first house,
thinking These are mine.
No years in the skin, the years
my friend from college keeps talking about
when I meet her for breakfast.
She orders eggs and then apologizes
because she remembers how much
I don’t like them, even though
it’s been twenty years since she left
her pink coat in the front closet
and then called from Red Deer to ask me
to send it. It was too soon, we needed
more time to slide under. But I went
to the closet and took the coat off the hanger.
It had fake fur and little suede triangles,
and I folded it and packed it in a box.
My friend sips her coffee. Even back then
she could let a pause fall like a shaft
of light. But when I poured too much
rum in my coke night after night,
she poured some of it back, and through
the thin walls of our house I sometimes
heard her crying. She doesn’t finish
her eggs and they sit between us
on the table. Soon we will have to go
back outside, into July.
from Dresses from the Old Country (2018)Find other Laura Read books in the library
Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd 2018
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